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Helpful Tips to Make Breastfeeding Easier for Working Parents

Woman at desk sits in front of laptop computer while breastfeeding.

Returning to work as a breastfeeding mother can feel daunting. If you feel overwhelmed by the factors to consider and the logistics to work out, you’re not alone. This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme recognizes the need to help working parents on their breastfeeding journey, “Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a difference for working parents.”

Here are some tips to make breastfeeding easier for working parents.

Breastfeeding in the workplace

Be prepared to have a conversation with your boss when you return to work. Ask for a private space to breastfeed or pump.  There are federal laws protecting your right to pump at work (in a private place other than a restroom), but some workplaces are unaware of these laws.

My podcast with Caitlin Aarab, JD, addresses issues that any young professional woman faces and how breastfeeding families can make it all work. Moms serving in the military have some additional complexities. I’ve addressed some of those in this brief post.

Get some tips for how to get — or give — practical support for breastfeeding in the workplace in a podcast I did about coworker support. It may also be helpful to ask coworkers who have breastfed in the workplace so you’re aware of what protocols may already be in place.

Learn the rules that apply to your situation. That knowledge can give you a huge advantage.

Dealing with childcare

Whether you leave your baby with family or in a daycare situation, you’ll need to set up a plan and work with your childcare provider to aid in your breastfeeding journey. Find a caregiver who aligns with your family’s breastfeeding goals. It helps to have a written plan so everyone knows what is expected and acceptable.

Having good communication with your provider is key!

Traveling for work

Your work schedule may require travel, whether by car or air. Traveling without your baby adds a bit of planning. You may not need to carry along a Pack ‘n Play® to a hotel room, but you’ll need to bring your pump and milk storage.

Familiarize yourself with the regulations for traveling with milk through security. Human milk is exempt from the 3-1-1 liquids rule, but you will need to notify the TSA officer that you are carrying it. You’ll need to remove it from your bag, and be prepared for the screening.

Knowing the rules of what you can and can’t bring into the airport makes packing easier. Check out my short post on pumping in airports.

Collecting and storing milk

Working outside of the home isn’t the only reason to express milk for later use. But typically, those who work outside of the home do that.

Check out my post handling milk, including freezing, storage, and thawing.

Optimizing help from family

The immediate and extended family can make things easier for breastfeeding parents. But they may not know how to be helpful. (Which means they can end up being unhelpful!)

Older or younger siblings can help by being interested and cooperative. They might be given a special toy to play with while the baby is nursing. Or, another family member may read them a book about breastfeeding. (An all-time favorite is So That’s What They’re For!: The Definitive Breastfeeding Guide. My personal favorite is The Best Gifts by Skrypuch, and the author was also a guest on my podcast.) What the siblings do to help depends on what’s age appropriate for them.

Fathers are often eager to be involved in the baby’s care, including feeding.   

Grandparents can be a good point of support, provided everyone is on the same page. Moms should communication their wishes and grandparents should respect those decisions and boundaries.

Providing ongoing support

Join Marie’s Insiders Club for additional resources! Get our helpful parent handouts on how to find the right childcare for your breastfed baby and how to build a feeding plan in childcare situations. It’s free to join! Register here or login to download these helpful handouts.

Being prepared and knowing your rights helps make breastfeeding easier for working parents. Remember that the parents (and your baby!) are in charge of the breastfeeding journey. Be prepared to be your own best advocate.

What are your practical tips to help make breastfeeding easier for working parents? Share them in the comments section!

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